The Complete Checklist To Prepare For The W2 Form Deadline

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If you’re running a business or are employed, you’ve probably seen a W-2 form. This document, also known as the wage and tax statement (different to pay stubs), contains income and tax-related information. All employers must prepare this statement for each of their employees annually.

A W-2 form indicates the team member’s total earnings for the preceding year and the taxes deducted from all types of income. This form is transmitted to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Internal Revenue Services (IRS) for validation.

Filing W-2 and other types of tax forms can be confusing, especially if your business has never done it before. In this article, you’ll get a curated preparation checklist to help you get ready ahead of the deadline.

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Who should file W-2 forms?

Employers who have one or more employees to whom they paid cash, non-cash, or any form of compensation are required to send out a W-2 form for each staff member. Any businesses that withheld income, social security, or Medicare tax from salaries, regardless of the income amount, must likewise file a W-2 form. An employer must file these forms too, if they paid more than USD$600 in salaries.

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When is the W-2 form due?  

There are two ways to submit the W-2 form—online and by mail. As a strict rule, the W-2 form mailing deadline and online submission dues should be January 31 of the following year. The last day for employers to send out W-2 forms for their employees also falls on the same day. 

If the W-2 form deadline falls on a non-working day—for instance, Saturday, Sunday, or a legal holiday—the deadline is moved to the next working day. W-2 forms and form W-3, or Transmittal of Income and Tax Statements, are sent to the SSA.

The IRS grants extension in exceptional cases, such as typhoons, flooding, and other types of significant disasters. For this, a taxpayer must submit a Form 8809 application, or the Application for Extension of Time to File Information Returns. A positive response from the IRS would mean a one-time 30-day grace period for W-2 form submission. 

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Which types of information does the W-2 form require? 

Before filling in the form online or on paper, you must have these types of information ready:

  1. Employer Information:

 

  1. Employee Information:

 

An employee’s W-4 form, also called the Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, indicates an employee’s tax situation and should contain this information. The staff typically submits this document upon onboarding.  

Prepare your staff’s total income and withholding tax information for the past year to provide accurate information. Be ready with the following details for completing the W-2 form:

  • Wages, tips, and other compensation 

  • Social Security wages 

  • Medicare wages 

  • Social Security tips 

  • Dependent care benefits   

  • Federal income tax withheld 

  • Social Security tax withheld  

  • Medicare tax withheld 

  • Allocated tips   

  • Retirement Plans and Special Benefits 

Businesses filing W-2 for the first time may require the help or advice of a tax expert. Even if done by accident, incorrect information may lead to stiff penalties, so proceed with caution.

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Preparation Checklist For Online W-2 Filing

Before you start this task, here’s a quick checklist you must consider:

 

  1. Register online

Make sure you meet the system requirements. Apart from an internet connection, you’ll need a cookies-enabled web browser with 128-bit encryption and an Adobe Acrobat version 5.0 or higher.

Before the W-2 deadline of submission on January 31, businesses must register and create an account with the SSA’s Business Services Online (BSO). Here’s how to do it:

  • Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/bso/bsowelcome.htm and click on the Register button. 

  • Refrain from using back, forward, and refresh buttons, as this will clear the information in your registration form. 

  • Providing an e-mail address allows you to access SSA’s electronic newsletter for tax and wage reporting updates.  

 

After a BSO registration, a business can avail of different services such as the following:

  • Social Security number verification   

  • Uploading wage file 

  • Filling up, submitting, reviewing W-2 and W-2c forms. A W-2c form, also called Corrected Wage and Tax Statements Form, is an IRS document for amending entries in the submitted W-2 form.

  • Saving submitted forms to your computer.  

  • Monitoring Employer Report Status or checking reports for errors  

  • Checking submission status  

  • Requesting for resubmission extension  

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  1. File W-2 forms online through your BSO account

  • Log in to your account.  

  • Go to the 2 Electronic Wage Reporting (EWR) home page.  

  • Click the ‘Create/Resume Forms W-2/W-3 Online’ link under the Forms W-2/W-3 Online tab on the EWR homepage to start your online w-2 application.  

  • Proceed to the ‘Before You Create Your Form(s) W-2/W-3’ page and key in the answers regarding the applicable tax year, Employer’s ID number, and type of W-2 form.

  • Fill up or check whether the employer information is correct for the wage report.  

  • Provide all the information required.   

  • Validate information contact to ensure you get all important notifications on time.  

  • You can use pre-filled W-2 information from the previous applicable year or make a new one.    

  • Once done with the correct information, go to W-3 Preview to open the submission page. As mentioned, businesses should submit W-2 and W-3, or the Transmittal of Income and Tax Statements.   

  • If you want to make sure the details are correct, print unsubmitted W-2 and W-3 forms.

  • Once verified, you can go back to your W-2 list for submission. 

  • Read and understand the statement, then click the submit button if you agree.     

  • Wait for the confirmation receipt.

  • Print the page as it includes the Wage File Identifier (WFID) and employer details. The printed copy indicates the time and date received. WFID is essential as you’ll need it to monitor your submission status.

  • Save or download a copy.  

As an employer, you have to provide your employees and the states with a copy of the W-2 form.

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  1. Correcting erroneous entries in the W-2 submitted form  

It’s crucial not to make any mistakes when filing tax returns. If you’ve just realized you’ve made some inadvertent errors after your online W-2 form submission, you can access the form and perform the amendments. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Log in to your BSO account 

  • Go to the EWR page. 

  • Access both your W-2 and W-3 forms and make the necessary corrections.    

  • Submit the e-form with the correct details.  

  • Download and save a copy. 

 

W-2 form paper filing: Is your business allowed?   

Despite the convenience of online W-2 form filing, some employers may prefer to do it the traditional way—through paper. If your business is mandated to file W-2 electronically yet you choose to do it the other way, fill in a waiver and file Form 8508, or Request for Waiver from Filing Information Returns Electronically. This document must be submitted at least 45 days before the W-2 submission deadline or more than 45 days before filing your W-2c form.  

State legislations vary on which businesses are required to file W-2 forms electronically. For instance, companies with less than 49 employees may choose to file W-2 paper filing in Massachusetts, while those with more than 25 employees in Rhode Island must file W-2 forms electronically. A company will have to check local tax laws to determine whether they may or may not qualify to mail their W-2 form. 

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Preparation Checklist For W-2 Paper Filing 

Check the steps below to file your W-2 forms on paper:

  1. Get an authorized W-2 and W-3 copy  

  • Go to www.irs.gov to access and download all types of forms, including W-2 and W-3.  

  • Download, fill in, and print the W-2 and W-3 forms

  • Don’t print Copy A of W-2 and W-3 forms and file to the SSA because the latter uses scanners to read the submitted documents, which are highly sensitive even to minor differences in print. Even the slightest changes can lead to inaccurate scanning and may affect the reported amounts indicated in the form.   

  • Instead, you can submit approved substitute versions that represent the exact reproduction of the authorized IRS forms.  

 

  1. Fill in the form(s) 

 

  1. Send to SSA via mail  

  • Once done, send to the SSA copies of W-2 forms for each employee via mail. Include the W-3 transmittal form.  

  • The delivery address varies based on the type of courier you choose.  

  • For mailed W-02 forms sent through US Postal Service, you can write the following address:

 

Social Security Administration  

Direct Operations Center  

Wilkes-Barre, PA 18769-0001  

 

If you use the USPS-certified mail service, where you’ll receive a delivery certification, rewrite the ZIP code to 18769-0002.
 

  • For IRS-authorized private couriers such as DHL Express, FedEx, and UPS, the mailing address should look like this:

 

Social Security Administration 

Direct Operations Center 

Attn: W-2 Process 

1150 E. Mountain Drive 

Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702-7997 

 

  • Within 30 days, you should receive a response from either the IRS or the SSA. 

  • Send Copy 1 of Form W-2, if required, to your state, city, or local tax department.  

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The bottom line 

The W-2 form indicates the total wages and compensation earned by your employees. They’ll later use it to prepare their personal tax for the applicable year. As an employer, you’re responsible for ensuring that all entries are accurate, as one mistake could seriously affect your business and your staff.  

As proper preparation prevents poor performance, it’s crucial to start early in W-2 form filing. This way, you and your employees will have enough leeway to address potential issues right away, should they arise.

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The Complete Checklist To Prepare For The W2 Form Deadline
James Wilson

After graduating from McCombs School of Business in Texas, James joined ThePayStubs as a CPA to make sure the numbers we provide our clients are corre... Read More

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